Dark Souls II

It’s times like these when that stash of spare DualShock 3s may come in handy. Bandai Namco is preparing to release sinister sequel Dark Souls II into the wild this week, and that means that a handful of media outlets have already worked their way through the controller snappingly challenging campaign. Our poor Nathan Michalik is currently still sparring with the impossible release, so while you wait for his definitive verdict, check out some of these early reviews.

Videogamer.com - 10/10

Dark Souls 2 is a refined, slicker version of what I consider to be the greatest video game ever made, and it is a title we’ll be finding more and more about post-release as its genius is fully uncovered.

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CVG - 10/10

Whether or not you come to believe that this is better than its predecessor will likely depend on how blindly you accepted the former game's faults. Dark Souls 2 irons out those flaws, and its world expands in ways that fans won't expect, but will undoubtedly appreciate. Its layers of depth, and colossal scope for challenge, community and discovery, is a gaming event of such impact it'll be referred to time and time again for years to come.

USgamer.net - 5/5

Dark Souls II provides the best of both worlds: an admirable sequel for series veterans, and a perfect jumping-on point for gamers who've shied away from From Software's RPG brand until now. And if you're afraid of the series' tough-as-nails reputation, From has made sinking into Souls addiction a much more effortless process. You just have to let Dark Souls II break you first.

EDGE - 9/10

Dark Souls II is, foremost, a game made for Souls players. It is a game that asks everything of you and gives so much back, keeping its cards close to its chest, and revealing them only to those prepared to die and die again. It is made to be played for hundreds, if not thousands, of hours as you try new builds, explore PVP and experiment with covenants, all the while slowly peeling back the layers of its lore. Some of its ideas work better than others, and Drangleic is no match for Lordran’s intricate design, but Dark Souls II is, like its predecessors, brilliant, beautiful, and absolutely essential.

Eurogamer.net - 9/10

Overall, Dark Souls 2 probably isn't quite the same masterpiece Dark Souls is, but then neither is anything else, and the fact it comes so close is remarkable. From Software has delivered on its goal of opening the game up a bit to more daunted players without breaking the heart of Souls, and Drangleic belongs in the same conversation as Lordran for any number of reasons - but this is still an iterative sequel, so many of the old routines and patterns of discovery inevitably sparkle a little less the second time around.

Have you got the gaming fortitude to make your way through Dark Souls II, or will you be spending your time with something a little more accessible? Stab us in the stomach 10,000 times via the comments section below.